Russia's Retaliation Over EU Deal Awaits Moldova
Published: July 17, 2014 (Issue # 1820)
As Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova move ever nearer to Europe, much to Russia's dismay, the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission assembled Wednesday with plans to discuss imposing "protective measures" on trade with Moldova.
While the results of Wednesday's meeting are yet unknown — the Commission's press office said that they will be revealed Thursday — Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, said last week that the topic was on the board's agenda, ITAR-Tass reported.
The underlying issue is the same one that inspired months of anti-government protests in Ukraine, culminating in the ouster of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing separatist insurgence in the country's east that has claimed hundreds of lives: an association agreement with the European Union.
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have all signed association agreements with the EU, but on July 2 the Moldovan parliament became the first and only one of the three to ratify it, immediately drawing the attention of top Russian officials.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared shortly after that Russia must respond "in the very near future" by decisions reached with Belarus and Kazakhstan, its fellow Eurasian Economic Commission and Customs Union members, ITAR-Tass reported.
"It is clear that this will seriously impact [Moldova's] trade and economic relations … which includes countries of the Customs Union and participants in the agreement on a free trade zone in the Commonwealth of Independent States," Medvedev said. Ukraine, Moldova and Russia are all part of a free trade zone within the CIS, a loose alliance of post-Soviet republics. Georgia was once part of the union as well but withdrew in 2009.
As for what the measures may look like, Russia's Economic Development Ministry on Wednesday published a draft bill that would levy a customs duty on an array of key imports from Moldova, including meat, fruits, vegetables and wine. If approved by the government, the bill will go into effect within one month of its signing.
Any actions taken now against Moldova would serve as a precedent if Ukraine and Georgia similarly ratify the agreements, Medvedev said.
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